Rusk County high school program finds place for every student in tech education

County By County

LADYSMITH, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – In a 2015 study by the U.S. Department of Education, four times more boys than girls expected to have a career in stem.

In Rusk County, one high school is working to change that. Today in County by County, First News at Nine’s Maria Blough shares how a tech ed program is creating space for every student.

With tools on the wall and machinery all around, this class at Ladysmith High School looks like almost any other shop class.

The difference? It’s a class exclusively filled with women.

Brittney Wiles, senior at Ladysmith High School said, “We work very good together and there are a lot more questions than when there’s guys, but it’s very fun. We have so much fun.”

Brittney Wiles is a senior at Ladysmith High School. Her time in tech ed classes like this one has inspired her next step.

“I’ve been taking tech ed classes since my freshmen year and i absolutely love it in here. I’m going into college this fall at UW-Eau Claire undecided, but these classes have opened my up to so much that I’m leaning toward engineering, doing something with these types of machines,” said Wiles.

For Tech Ed Teacher Kyle Jeffress, helping more women get the chance to experience the trades is what this class is all about.

“You have to wonder how many girls and women go through high school and never get that exposure and miss out on that opportunity and they might have really liked to enjoy,” said Jeffress.

In a class filled with their peers, high schoolers get to see the many different areas of tech ed.

“We start off with the automotive so girls can bring in their own cars that they’re driving and learn how to maintain and work on those. We go to the woodshop let them make some of their own projects. Then we take them here to the metal shop and teach them about basic metalworking and then just teach them a little bit about home maintenance too,” said Jeffress.

One of Jeffress’ goals is to help each, and every student grow.

Jeffress said, “Some kids by the time they get to their senior year know how to use all this fun stuff. It’s hard to get them out of here sometimes.”

Wiles has seen that transformation in herself.

“I came in not knowing too much and asking a lot of questions and now by my senior year, it’s awesome to be able to come in here and to know what I’m doing most of the time,” said Wiles.

This level of student development wouldn’t be possible without the help of the community.

“Our fab lab and everything are relatively new probably within the last 6 or 7 years. And we’ve actually got a lot of community support to help put together the dollars to get the equipment and fun stuff around here,” said Jeffress.

It’s that community support that brought Jeffress back to Rusk County to teach at his old high school.

For County by County, Maria Blough First News at Nine.

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